Old Hillcrest Apartments get makeover from new owners
Owners and renters together celebrated a new era at the Seven Pines Apartment Homes on Thursday, June 6.
Since buying the property in 2011, the new owners have spent $1.1 million renovating the 72-unit complex at 1243 SW 11th Ave.
The Seven Pines Limited Partnership replaced the siding, roofs, windows, decks, parking lot and landscaping. They made major plumbing upgrades, fixed the laundry units and replaced garage doors. The apartments got new paint, and 80 percent of the units received some combination of new flooring, kitchens, lighting and interior doors.
Part of the renovation involved tearing out the old wooden playground, and some of the younger tenants are eager to see it replaced. A new playground is in the five-year plan, they were told.
Long-time partners Harold Teasdale and Tom Cooper said they bought the property after being approached by the previous owners, who were experiencing financial difficulties. Teasdale and Cooper were joined by investor Dave Flor in the venture.
Teasdale and Cooper are involved in real estate acquisition, affordable housing projects and land development. In 1990 they founded the Minnesota Brokerage Group, a company that specializes in listing and selling multifamily properties in Minnesota and surrounding states. Teasdale said the partnership owns many multi-family properties and has handled many renovations. Charter Oaks in Stillwater also just finished a makeover, he said.
A Marine, Teasdale is well-known there for his award-winning Jackson Meadow development, a cluster of 64 single-family homes on 40 acres of land that has 270 acres of undeveloped open space and woodland.
The Seven Pines apartment complex was formerly known as Hillcrest Apartments. The buildings were in poor condition, and tenants were often visited by police.
Forest Lake Police Detective Ashley LaValle said, “I started here four years ago. The three buildings at Hillcrest were the first address I ever memorized, because we were there so frequently.” Disturbances, suspicious activities, domestic problems and theft were common, she said.
LaValle credits Property Manager Theresa Wallum, armed with a strict lease, for much of the change. When the apartment complex changed hands, she said, renters had to sign a new lease with firm guidelines. “Theresa evicted tenants who generated police calls. She was in close contact with police. If somebody calls the police at that property, she knows within 24 hours,” LaValle said.
The police detective said she recently recommended Seven Pines to someone who was moving to Forest Lake and looking for an apartment.
Residents are also pleased with the change. In a letter to the new owners, Lori Griffith, who has lived there for five years, wrote “Before, when someone asked me where I lived, I was embarrassed to tell them because of all the stuff on the news. Thanks for cleaning up these apartments. I really appreciate it.”
At the open house on Thursday, Detective LaValle talked about the changes, and Community Development Director Doug Borglund talked about the importance of the project to the city.